Housing Matters April 2023

Welcome to the April 2023 edition of Housing Matters.

Just last week, our friends at Anglicare Australia and Everybody’s Home released more evidence of the growing housing emergency.

Anglicare Australia’s latest Rental Affordability Snapshot confirms that rental unaffordability is impacting more Australians than ever. Of the 10,527 private rentals advertised across Greater Sydney and the Illawarra on 18-19 March, only 4% were affordable for someone earning the minimum wage. Meanwhile, only 36 of those rentals were affordable for people receiving income support payments of any kind.

The ’Priced Out’ report, recently released by Everybody’s Home, paints a dire picture for the essential workers of Australia, without whom our communities could not survive. The report found that in NSW, there are no regions where rentals are affordable for essential workers on award wages.

This means that far too many people in NSW, including single parents, older people, students, key workers in our health and education sectors, and disability support recipients are faced with two choices: securing a private rental property which may not be affordable or appropriate for their needs, or, if deemed eligible, joining the 10-year long queue for social housing.

Despite these significant challenges, there is some good news ahead of the Federal Budget next week, with Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Julie Collins announcing that the liability cap on the National Housing Infrastructure Facility will be increased by $2 billion to $7.5 billion. This increases the pool of concessional loans and grants available for community housing providers. We look forward to hearing further details about this and other housing measures next week.

In other news, we are just one week away from CHIA NSW’s Community Housing 2023 conference. With a new NSW government, several potential housing initiatives on the table at the federal level, and increasing public attention on the housing crisis, the conference comes at an opportune time to consider how the community housing industry can contribute its expertise to deliver more social and affordable housing for people in greatest need.  With an extensive program, it is shaping up to be an exciting and thought-provoking couple of days. I look forward to seeing you there.

There’s much more in this edition which I hope you enjoy.

Mark Degotardi

Worst ever rental market for minimum wage earners: Anglicare Australia releases its Rental Affordability Snapshot for 2023

Anglicare Australia has released its Rental Affordability Snapshot for 2023. The Snapshot surveyed 45,895 rental listings nationwide and the results paint a dire picture for Australia's renting households.

Not a single rental was found to be affordable for a person on Youth Allowance and only four rentals, all of them share houses, were reported as affordable for someone on Jobseeker Payment.

Those on the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension or earning the minimum wage aren’t faring much better. The report found that:

  • 162 rentals (0.4%) were affordable for a single person on the Age Pension
  • 66 rentals (0.1%) were affordable for a single person on the Disability Support Pension
  • 345 rentals (0.8%) were affordable for a single person earning a full-time minimum wage.

It is the first time that the Rental Affordability Snapshot has recorded less than 1% of available rentals as affordable for a minimum wage worker, highlighting the escalating crisis.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers has said, “Each year, we think the market couldn’t get any worse. And each year, we’re shocked to see that it can”.

Ms Chambers has recommended government investment in social and affordable housing be a key solution. CHIA NSW strongly supports this recommendation, as highlighted in our media release here.

You can find Anglicare Australia’s 2023 National and Regional Rental Affordability Snapshot reports here.

Australia's essential workers priced out of their communities

Everybody’s Home has released a new report comparing data on rents against the award wages for 15 essential worker categories.

Produced by Anglicare Australia, the ‘Priced Out’ report found that soaring rental prices are pushing essential workers out of their communities across Australia, with almost no region being affordable.

Since March 2020, essential workers across the country have lost an average of six hours from their weekly income to rent increases, equating to 37 days each year.

Essential workers in single-income households are likely to be experiencing serious financial stress, and those in dual-income households are likely reliant on their partner’s income.

Sydney continues to be Australia’s most expensive capital city for essential workers looking to rent an average-priced unit, while no regions across NSW are affordable for essential workers on award wages. Essential workers paying a typical rent in any region of NSW would be in rental stress.

Regional coastal areas are particularly unaffordable due to domestic migration trends as a result of the pandemic, when working from home became commonplace, and many city-dwellers relocated to traditionally smaller towns.

You can read the full report here.

All eyes on upcoming Federal Budget after housing announcements

The Prime Minister and his Minister for Housing and Homelessness have made several announcements around support for renters, community housing grants, and expansion of first home buyer schemes ahead of next week’s Federal Budget.

As mentioned, Housing Minister Julie Collins has announced the raising of the National Housing Infrastructure Facility liability cap by $2 billion to $7.5 billion, increasing the amount of concessional loans and grants available to community housing providers.

Wendy Hayhurst, CEO of CHIA’s national body welcomed the announcement and urged the government leverage the industry’s expertise.

“This is a welcome and important change that will make the delivery of social and affordable housing easier.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to getting more social and affordable homes built in Australia.

“We look forward to being involved in discussions on other proposals, especially ideas to stimulate build-to-rent capacity where the community housing sector has particular expertise to share,” Ms Hayhurst said.

Community Housing 2023 is next week!

Last call for registrations for the Community Housing 2023 conference!

Held at the Sydney Masonic Centre on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 May, Community Housing 2023 will showcase the latest evidence, policy debates, and best practice examples underpinning the delivery of social and affordable housing solutions by the community housing industry and our dedicated partners.

The Community Housing 2023 program features over 60 expert speakers representing the community housing industry, government, the private sector, the not-for-profit sector, and academia. We are grateful to our sponsors and exhibitors for their generous support of Community Housing 2023.

More than 400 people are already registered for the conference. Will we see you there?

Head here to secure your tickets. Don’t miss out!

Property Council of Australia's Innovation & Excellence Awards 2023

A huge congratulations to SGCH, Pacific Link Housing, Housing Trust, and Home in Place for being recognised as leaders in affordable housing development.

Each organisation is a finalist in the Landcom Award for Best Affordable Housing Development at The Property Council of Australia’s Innovation & Excellence Awards for 2023.

The Innovation & Excellence Awards promote excellence in design and innovation in the built environment and aims to showcase superior examples of iconic projects across a broad range of sectors and design disciplines.

It comes as no surprise to CHIA NSW that these community housing providers have been recognised for their dedication towards innovative and inclusive social and affordable housing design.

We will have to wait a little longer to find out who takes out the top honour, with the awards scheduled for August. Good luck to all the finalists!

CHIA NSW releases Housing Options for People Leaving Custody evaluation report

CHIA NSW has released its final evaluation report for the Housing Options for People Leaving Custody project.

Housing Options for People Leaving Custody was a pilot project that provided housing and support services for people leaving custody in regional NSW. The pilot project was underpinned by a Housing First model and primarily targeting people with connections to the two pilot sites.

Funded by the Department of Communities and Justice through the Industry Development Strategy, the pilot was delivered on the Mid North Coast and Shoalhaven between 2018 and 2022. It was led by Community Housing Limited and Southern Cross Community Housing and delivered in partnership with NSW Government agencies and not-for-profit organisations.

The pilot project was independently evaluated by Lee Road Consulting, with the report demonstrating that the service model was sound and enabled 16 people to maintain social housing tenancies who would otherwise be homeless or at risk.

Read the full report here.

Chronically underfunded community services sector buckling under demand as cost-of-living pressures continue to grow

The Australian Council of Social Services has released a new report, At the Precipice: Australia’s community sector through the cost-of-living crisis, showing that the community services sector is at breaking point and facing a staffing crisis after years of funding neglect from governments.

With cost-of-living and housing pressures mounting for families across the country, community organisations are facing unprecedented demand for assistance. Satisfaction with government funding levels has plummeted from 2021, with only 9% of sector leaders agreeing with the statement, “Funding covers the full costs of service delivery” compared to 20% the previous year.

Most community organisations reported stable (36%) or worsened (37%) finances in 2022, while 53% of organisations that traditionally rely on philanthropy or commercial income as their primary source of revenue have reported worsening financial conditions.

Workers in the sector are themselves not immune to the cost-of-living crisis. The report indicates that some community services staff are contemplating their future in the sector, as a lack of access to higher wages and affordable housing place strain on their own budgets.

54% of sector leaders noted that state and territory governments are their main source of income. This includes domestic and family violence services and housing and homelessness services. The report stresses the need for greater government investment to ensure continued service delivery and staff retention.

One of the key recommendations of the report was for the Federal Government to make housing affordable for people with low incomes by committing to increasing investment in social housing and boosting Commonwealth Rent Assistance. These changes would not only support people seeking access to services but also facilitate a reduction in demand.

As the country contends with an uncertain financial outlook, the services that households expect to be able to turn to in times of need are also facing cost-of-living crises.

Read the full report here.

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